“I am founding a company called Open Bike (www.openbike.com). Our mission is to use technology in a way that gets more people on bicycles, the central premise being that more people on bicycles is a good thing.
There are environmental benefits, you get rid of issues like congestion, you deal with the obesity epidemic because you have people exercising to a greater degree. Essentially taking something that’s already quite beautiful and making it even more viable for more people.”
On San Francisco
I came to San Francisco for a mix of phenomenal weather, some of the most beautiful scenery and, as a cyclist, the best roads of anywhere. So I ride constantly, which helps keep me sane.
As for the city itself, I understand from friends that it’s changing rapidly … for the worse in the sense that it’s being stripped of -yes, some of it’s grime and grittiness- but also some of the people that give it it’s character, because people are being priced out. Certainly I’m contributing to that by coming in, but I’m trying to be here and be part of here rather than just living in a little tech bubble.
Even though I find the entrepreneurial scene to be at best un-compelling, and at worst meaningless in the worst way, there’s still a lot of people that are doing genuinely cool things. People are demonstrating an intense curiosity that has taken them to extremes in terms of coming up with new technologies, new ways of thinking about things, and combining things because it’s cool and interesting and a form of exploration. And I love that, certainly I feed off of it.
I have an ambivalent relationship with the tech scene here. On one hand it’s this bubble that’s superficial in a lot of ways, but at the same time there’s an energy that can be expressive and creative in the same way that good art can be creative.
On Being American
In a global context, the two of us sitting here are two of the most wealthy people on the face of the planet in human history.
We lose sight of the fact that I can be on a plane going to the other side of the planet if I want to, and it would not create any sort of material financial burden on me. Nor would it be a big deal for me to neglect my responsibilities for several days to do that sort of thing. That is mind blowing. That is tremendous good fortune, and I don’t think I deserve it more than somebody who’s born somewhere less prosperous deserves their lot.
There are aspects of American culture that I find appealing, and others that I find ugly and unacknowledged. Like the fact that most people don’t acknowledge that our country was built on genocide and enslavement and other things that have resulted in people who today don’t think of themselves as … benefiting from those types of policies. People take a blind eye to it and aren’t able to see the world through the perspective of others… Recent events show that white culture is pretty oblivious to how unfair the system that supports their privilege is.
I feel very fortunate to be from here, and at the same time very cognizant of the fact that we don’t have this privilege because we’re better, but because of chance, luck… or some really nasty things our ancestors did.
I don’t think there’s any point, any meaning or ultimate purpose, some celestial dictator, or anything after death. I think the mind is what the brain does.
At the same time, despite the pointlessness of all of it, which I found quite despairing for a period, I see value in… living a considered life. That might be the closest thing I can hone in on in terms of a “life philosophy”: a balance of pointlessness along with acknowledging that pointlessness and living a worthwhile life nonetheless.
One Amazing Experience I’ve Had
Being in love. I have had the good fortune to have had several relationships in my life with women who have been truly extraordinary. One of whom, which I’d say was the most formative, is still one of my best friends. She was several years my senior at the time; we knew we wouldn’t end up together because she wanted to have kids and I obviously was not in a position where I wanted to do that any time soon (I actually don’t want to at all), but it was a tremendous, profound friendship and romance.
My first time living abroad, we traveled around China together, she was Chinese and had tremendous energy. Just being around her gave me appreciation for how good people can be.